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What gastroparesis means?

Gastroparesis (Also called delayed gastric emptying) is a long-term (chronic) condition where the stomach cannot empty in the normal way. Food passes through the stomach slower than usual. It’s thought to be the result of a problem with the nerves and muscles that control how the stomach empties.


What triggers gastroparesis?

Gastroparesis without a known cause is called idiopathic gastroparesis. Diabetes is the most common known underlying cause of gastroparesis. Diabetes can damage nerves, such as the vagus nerve and the nerves and special cells, called pacemaker cells, in the stomach wall.

Gastroparesis symptoms

The most common symptoms of gastroparesis include feeling full from small amounts of food, nausea, vomiting, reduced appetite, abdominal pain, heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and regurgitation. These symptoms can lead to weight loss and nutrient deficiencies. Other symptoms include bloating, muscle weakness, and night sweats. Since the digestive system doesn’t work smoothly, those with the condition also experience periods of low blood sugar while the food remains in the stomach, and high blood sugar when it eventually reaches the intestines.

Sometimes, more severe complications can occur due to delayed gastric emptying. Individuals can experience obstructions caused by masses of solid hardened food (bezoars). 

If excessive vomiting is a symptom, it can cause its own set of complications, including dehydration and malnutrition. 

Is gastroparesis a serious disease?

Gastroparesis is not usually life-threatening, but complications can be serious. They include malnutrition, dehydration, or a bezoar that completely blocks the flow of food out of the stomach.

Gastroparesis causes

The exact cause of gastroparesis is not yet known, but it is thought to have something to do with disrupted nerve signals in the stomach. It is believed that the pneumogastric nerve, which controls the movement of food through the digestive tract, becomes damaged and causes food to be digested slowly or not at all.

Other causes of gastroparesis include:

  • Viral infections.
  • Gastric (abdominal) surgery with injury to the vagus nerve.
  • Medications such as narcotics and some antidepressants.
  • Amyloidosis (deposits of protein fibers in tissues and organs) and scleroderma (a connective tissue disorder that affects the skin, blood vessels, skeletal muscles and internal organs).

What are the stages of gastroparesis?

Grade 1, or mild gastroparesis, is characterized by symptoms that come and go and can easily be controlled by dietary modification and by avoiding medications that slow gastric emptying.

Grade 2, or compensated gastroparesis, is characterized by moderately severe symptoms. Individuals with Grade 2 gastroparesis are treated with medications that stimulate gastric emptying and medications that reduce vomiting; such individuals require hospitalization only infrequently.

Grade 3, o insuficiencia gástrica, se caracteriza por individuos que no responden a los medicamentos utilizados para tratar la gastroparesia. Estas personas no pueden mantener una nutrición o hidratación adecuadas. Las terapias requeridas pueden incluir líquidos y medicamentos intravenosos y nutrición o cirugía. Las personas con gastroparesia de grado 3 a menudo requieren hospitalización.

What foods should you avoid if you have gastroparesis?

To reduce the symptoms you must avoid:

  • Raw and dried fruits (such as apples, berries, coconuts, figs, oranges, and persimmons)
  • Raw vegetables (such as Brussels sprouts, corn, green beans, lettuce, potato skins, and sauerkraut)
  • Whole-grain cereal.
  • Nuts and seeds (including chunky nut butters and popcorn)

Gastroparesis diet

There is no single diet for everyone who suffers from gastroparesis since each case and person is different, but you can feel better if you learn what and how to eat. Your doctor can recommend a registered dietitian and this in turn help you what foods are best for you.

We have some tips for you, but remember, the goal is to relieve symptoms while making sure to nourish your body as much as possible.

Tip 1: prepare smaller food portions by increasing the frequency of their intake. We recommend you eat between 4 to 6 times a day, so your stomach swells less and empties faster. A small food portion is 1 to 1½ cups of food.

Tip 2: integrate in your meals the one that you can mix with liquids, since the liquids leave the stomach faster than those solid foods. Example, you can mix potatoes with broth in a blender, your imagination is the limit, you can use it to mix water, natural juices, etc.

Tip 3: eat less fat and fiber because these slow down the emptying of the stomach. You can consume between 2 to 3 grams of fiber per meal and between 30 to 50 grams of fat per day. In the case of fats there is an exception, your stomach can work very well with liquid fats so we had previously talked about mixing solid foods with liquids; this is great news if you need more calories.

Tip 4: chew your food well to the point of feeling like mashed potatoes before you swallow it, this will help your stomach digest much faster.

Tip 5: keep hydrated; Dehydration can make nausea worse.

Tip 6: try to eat solid foods in the morning and liquid foods in the afternoon and evening. If your symptoms are severe, your doctor may suggest that you follow a liquid diet for a while.

Gastroparesis bowel movements

The delayed stomach emptying and reduced digestive motility associated with gastroparesis can have a significant impact on bowel function. Just as changes in bowel motility can lead to things like diarrhea and constipation, so also changes in stomach motility can cause a number of symptoms: nausea. vomiting.

Does gastroparesis go away?

Gastroparesis is a chronic (long-lasting) condition. This means that treatment usually doesn’t cure the disease, but you can manage it and keep it under control. 

One of the best ways to help control the symptoms of gastroparesis is to change your daily eating habits.

Another important factor is the texture of food; liquids and low residue are encouraged (for example, you should eat applesauce instead of whole apples with intact skins).

You should also avoid foods that are high in fat (which can slow down digestion) and fiber (which is difficult to digest).

Gastroparesis treatment

Treatment of gastroparesis depends on the severity of the person’s symptoms. In most cases, treatment does not cure gastroparesis. Treatment helps people manage the condition so they can be as comfortable and active as possible.

Treatment will focus on treating any underlying problem that is causing it and controlling your symptoms.

Changing eating habits can sometimes help control the severity of gastroparesis symptoms.

Several prescription medications are available to treat gastroparesis, so your doctor may use a combination of medications to find the most effective treatment.

What is the best way to treat gastroparesis?

Medications to treat gastroparesis may include:

Medications to stimulate the stomach muscles. These medications include metoclopramide (Reglan) and erythromycin.

Medications to control nausea and vomiting. Medications that help relieve nausea and vomiting include diphenhydramine (Benadryl, others) and ondansetron (Zofran).

With which doctor is gastroparesis treated?

A gastroenterologist is the specialist who performs the initial evaluation.

Where is gastroparesis pain located?

Gastroparesis causes a sharp stabbing pain related to intestinal cramps and cramps in the upper part of the stomach caused by the inability to relax and “settle” the food just eaten.

Gastroparesis life expectancy

Gastroparesis is a serious condition that significantly affects quality of life.

The hope of life of a person suffering from gastroparesis is dependent on the stage of the gastroparesis. 

Gastroparesis mortality is highly variable, ranging from 4% in a mixed cohort of inpatients and outpatients followed for 2 years to 37% in diabetic gastroparesis patients requiring nutritional support.

The milder cases have a good expectation of life, but in the more serious cases that it complicates the feeding tube, the life expectancy may be reduced. 

However, for many people, gastroparesis is a lifelong condition.

How gastroparesis affect diabetes

When food that has been delayed in the stomach finally enters the small intestine and is absorbed, blood glucose levels rise.

Gastroparesis can worsen diabetes by making it more difficult to control blood glucose. When food that has been delayed in the stomach finally enters the small intestine and is absorbed, blood glucose levels risGastroparesis makes stomach emptying unpredictable and this can worsen diabetes by making it more difficult to control blood glucose.

Is there any new treatment for gastroparesis?

New treatments are currently being tested, but in order to become available to the general public, clinical studies must first be carried out to prove their effectiveness against the disease.

We have several open studies to test new treatments in search of a cure for gastroparesis and we are enrolling volunteers for it; enrollment includes payment for the time invested in going to the facilities, medicines, among others. If you are interested, you can go to the following link where you can see the open studies and see if you qualify for it.

👉 See open studies